University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Effects of Recent Concussion on Brain Bioenergetics: A Phosphorus-31 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Department of Neurology

Publication Date


Document Type



Neurology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry


BACKGROUND: Although clinical evaluations and neurocognitive assessments are commonly used to evaluate the extent of and recovery from concussion, brain bioenergetics could provide a more quantitative marker. The neurometabolic response to a concussion is thought to increase neuronal energy consumption and thus the demand for nucleoside triphosphate (NTP).

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the possible disruption in high-energy metabolism within the prefrontal cortex of college athletes who had either had a concussion within the past 6 months (n=14) or had never had a concussion (n=13). We hypothesized that concussed athletes would have imbalanced brain bioenergetics resulting from increased NTP consumption, and these biochemical changes would correspond to impaired cognitive abilities.

METHODS: We used phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy to quantify high-energy phosphates. We performed the neuroimaging in conjunction with neurocognitive assessments targeting prefrontal cortex-mediated tasks.

RESULTS: Our results revealed significantly lower gamma-NTP levels in the athletes after concussion. Although the concussed and non-concussed participants performed similarly in neurocognitive assessments, lower levels of gamma-NTP were associated with worse scores on neurocognitive tasks.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support the concept of increased energy demand in the prefrontal cortex of a concussed brain, and we found that while neurocognitive assessments appear normal, brain energetics may be abnormal. A longitudinal study could help establish brain NTP levels as a biomarker to aid in diagnosis and to assess recovery in concussed patients.

DOI of Published Version



Cogn Behav Neurol. 2015 Dec;28(4):181-7. doi: 10.1097/WNN.0000000000000076. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cognitive and behavioral neurology : official journal of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology

PubMed ID